advertisement

Sognefjord

If there's only room for one fjord in your future, make it Norway's longest and deepest fjord, Sognefjord, a geologic and panoramic marvel. The terrain soars upward from the watery depths of the North Atlantic, and many waterfalls punctuate its edges with spray. The best way to view the fjord involves a full-day jaunt that's possible only between May 18 and September 15. It combines self-guided travel by boat, bus, and rail. Begin by heading to the Bergen harborfront (the Strandkaien), where you'll board a ferry for the 4 1/2-hour ride to the fjord-side hamlet of Gudvangen. A bus carries participants on to the town of Voss. In Voss, after exploring the town, you can board a train to carry you back to Bergen. Many schedule permutations are possible, but the one that's particularly convenient leaves Bergen at 8:30am and returns at 5:15pm. The combined round-trip fare is NOK1,060 ($212/£106). Details on this and other explorations by public transport are available from the tourist office.

Norway in a Nutshell

Our most serious recommendation is to have the more prolonged experience instead of a "quickie." That said, no tour we've ever taken in Norway has the drama or excitement of this 12-hour captivating preview of the breadth and diversity of landscapes, encapsulating the majesty of fjords and mountains that look like giant trolls.

Several different transit options operate throughout the day. The one most aggressively recommended by Bergen's tourist office operates year-round. It starts at 8:40am at Bergen's railway station. After a 2-hour train ride, you'll disembark in the mountaintop hamlet of Myrdal, where you can take in the natural wonders for about 20 minutes. In Myrdal, you'll board a cog railway for one of the world's most dramatically inclined train rides. The trip down to the village of Flåm, a drop of 870m (2,854 ft.), takes an hour and passes roaring streams and seemingly endless waterfalls.

After a 1-hour stopover in Flåm, where you can have lunch or take a brief hike, you'll board a fjord steamer for a ride along the Sognefjord. You'll reach the fjord-side town of Gudvangen after a 2-hour ride. After 30 minutes in Gudvangen, you'll board a bus for the 75-minute ride to Voss. Here you'll spend 30 minutes before boarding a train for the 75-minute ride back to Bergen. Arrival is scheduled for 8:35pm.

Expect only a rushed overview of each town, as there is more scenery than you can digest in a 12-hour day. The round-trip fare, excluding meals, costs NOK895 ($179/£90) for adults, NOK447 ($89/£45) for children 4 to 15, and is free for accompanied children under 4. There are discounts for holders of Eurailpasses or Scanrail passes. For more information, contact Bergen's Tourist Office or call tel. 81-56-82-22 (www.norwaynutshell.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.